By: David P. Griscom
The decision of the Ferguson Grand Jury not to indict officer Darren Wilson has rocked the nation. In the two days after the announcement that there will be no indictment, people have gathered in cities across the country to show their disappointment in the decision. In many cities large groups shut down streets and business districts in protest of the ruling. There have been skirmishes with the police in some cities – in Seattle police used tear gas to disperse the protesters, and in Ferguson there has been a strong presence of the Missouri National Guard.
In Ferguson, the epicenter of national action, protests have continued for days with clashes and a massive police crackdown. In the days following the announcement police cars have been burned, businesses vandalized, and the city hall has been damaged. On the 25th, as tensions between protesters and police escalated, the St. Louis County Police Department issued an order that the gathering had now become an ‘unlawful assembly’. Any members of the public who were out were thereafter subjected to arrest. However, with the increase in National Guard troops to the area, who came to number 2,000+ on Tuesday night, the unrest was more tempered than on Monday night. The inclusion of the armed forces in Ferguson has only increased the divisive narrative of a state which stands against its people.
This issue has been divided along stark racial lines. According to a Huffington Post YouGov poll 64% of blacks Americans believe that Wilson was at fault, compared to only 22% of white Americans. This trend can be seen in social media as well. As the protests went into the night the hashtag ‘#chimpout’ began to trend on twitter. In addition to this musician Ted Nugent, an outspoken conservative, posted racist remarks about the recent events, which at the time of writing this article have accumulated half a million ‘likes’.
While the protests continue across the country with more planned for this holiday weekend, it is apparent that there exists a strong racial divide in this country. In addition, the use of tear gas and rubber bullets in many cities has been met with outcry about a police force which is indifferent to many of its citizens. The recent events have opened up a new chapter in the saga of race relations in the United States, a book which many thought had been closed.